Not only did he reject the teachings of liberalism and nationalism in principle, but also, as the leading statesman of the Habsburg empire, he recognized that the establishment of centralized authority in Germany which still included Austria would seriously impede the policies his government was pursuing in Hungary , Italy , and the Balkans. When on March 23, , an unbalanced student, Karl Ludwig Sand, assassinated the conservative playwright and publicist August von Kotzebue , Vienna persuaded the princes of the German Confederation that they were facing a dangerous attempt to overthrow the established order in the German states.
The result was a series of repressive measures called the Carlsbad Decrees , which the federal Diet adopted on September 20, General censorship was introduced, and the Burschenschaften were outlawed. This first major success of the conservative counteroffensive had an important effect on the struggle within the state governments between the advocates and the opponents of reform.
In Prussia the liberal members of the ministry were forced to resign, and the plan to promulgate a constitution for the kingdom was rejected. This shift to the right by Berlin encouraged authoritarian tendencies among the secondary states of the north, which soon abandoned their own constitutional projects.
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By the end of the reform movement, which had begun some 15 years before, came to a complete halt. It had succeeded in altering the political and economic structure of society, but it had been unable to establish a tradition of liberal government and national loyalty in Germany. The forces of particularism and legitimism, deriving their chief support from the landowning nobility and the conservative peasantry, remained strong.
The foundation of bourgeois civic consciousness and material prosperity on which England and France had built their representative institutions was still relatively weak beyond the Rhine. The ideas of political reform had arisen in Germany not from the experience of revolution and social transformation but rather as imitations of foreign examples and in reaction against foreign oppression.
The established order was once again threatened briefly in the wake of the July Revolution of in France. The news that there had been a successful insurrection against the Bourbons in Paris had an electrifying effect throughout the Continent. In Germany there were sympathetic uprisings in some of the secondary states of the north.
The rulers of Brunswick , Saxony , Hanover , and Hesse-Kassel , seeking to forestall more extreme demands, agreed to promulgate liberal constitutions. A mass meeting of southern radicals at Hambach Castle in the Palatinate May , moreover, called for national unification, republican government, and popular sovereignty.
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A group of militant students even launched a foolhardy attempt to seize the city of Frankfurt am Main, dissolve the federal Diet, and proclaim a German republic. The effect of such harebrained schemes was predictable. As the princes of the German Confederation gradually recovered from their initial fear of the revolutionary movement, they opposed with increasing vigour plans to alter the existing system of government. Again Metternich led the effort to crush liberalism and nationalism.
Liang, Hsi-huey 1929-
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